Austin Eubanks, a survivor of the Columbine shooting and a well-known addiction recovery speaker, passed away from a heroin overdose. Austin became addicted to opioid drugs after experiencing the trauma of the Columbine shooting in 1999. He went through drug addiction recovery multiple times, eventually becoming sober until his drug relapse in 2019.
From Addiction to Recovery Speaker
Austin and his friend were together in the library at Columbine on the day of the shooting when they first heard the sound of shooting. A teacher ran into the room, shouting that someone had a gun and was shooting people. Austin and his friend hid under a table but were both still shot. Austin’s friend was killed instantly, and Austin was injured. He was treated with strong opioid medications within an hour of being shot to manage his pain and found that these medications also dulled the pain of the mental trauma that he experienced. Within weeks, he developed an addiction to opioids.
Austin’s teen prescription drug abuse problem grew over the next few years and he underwent drug addiction treatment multiple times. He finally achieved a lasting period without drug use, and in 2016 celebrated five years of sobriety. Austin used his story and his experiences to speak out against drug addiction and to help other people who had developed drug addictions after experiencing emotional trauma. He spoke with other notable addiction recovery speakers and became recognized nationally for his efforts against addiction.
On May 18, 2019, Austin was found dead in his home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. His death was ruled an accidental drug overdose — “acute heroin toxicity” — by the Routt County Coroner’s Office.
“It was ruled an accidental overdose. It’s sad because we were hoping it was some other cause of death,” coroner Robert Ryg said in a statement. “He’s struggled with that in the past. We thought he was over that, but I guess it’s one of those things that comes back and it haunts you. Addiction’s a tough thing.”
Following his heroin overdose death, his family released a statement: “Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work. As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time.”
Recovery Is A Lifelong Process
Austin’s untimely death serves as a reminder to those to whom he dedicated his life. The addiction recovery process is lifelong, and setbacks can occur, even for those who seem the strongest. Austin’s legacy encourages people to always be mindful that recovery is not permanent, but must be carefully maintained.
Adams, Char. “Columbine Shooting Survivor Austin Eubanks Died of Accidental Heroin Overdose: Coroner.” People, June 14, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Weisfeldt, Sara; Vera, Amir. “Columbine Shooting Survivor Austin Eubanks Died of a Heroin Overdose.” CNN, June 13, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Stanglin, Doug. “Columbine Survivor Austin Eubanks Died of Accidental Heroin Overdose, Coroner Says.” USA Today, June 14, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.